Breaking the Bully

Making Room For GodIn the eight years that I have been dealing with the behavioral issues of my sweet little Katie, I have never ever been approached by an adult.  Last night was a first.  I was sitting reading my new bible study (which I just love), “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” when I looked up at Katie’s gymnastics class.  She was enjoying the balance beam.  Her instructor had her tossing a stuffed animal with another student in the class.  This was all to teach balance and of course to have fun.  I glanced back to my book and started to become engrossed again in Lysa TerKeurst’s words.  Looking up from time to time, I noticed Katie had moved to the floor.  Her instructor was taking them into an obstacle course of frontward and backwards somersaults to cartwheels to handstands and lastly back walkovers.  It seemed like fun and certainly was keeping Katie’s attention which trust me is a hard thing to do.  Keeping Katie focused on anything is next to impossible, but gymnastics seems to do the trick.

It was at this moment that I noticed Katie redirecting a smaller child in her group.  The girl seemed lost and confused with all these obstacles.  I mean who wouldn’t be?  Katie has been in this same class for the last 6 months so she knows the drill and she does tend to be a bit “bossy.”  Her Montessori school background teaches her to help the younger kids, and some kids don’t like it when they are told what to do.  I know this because Katie is that way, but it is all part of the process of what I like to call learning.  We have to learn to take directions from all types of people.  It is how we handle that situation that tells a lot about us as adults.  When the child didn’t listen to Katie she touched the child on her shoulders to turn her toward the correct position.  The child’s mom didn’t like this and turned to two other moms who said – “Did you see that? That girl just pushed your daughter.”  The mom then turned to me and said, “Is that your daughter?”

I tried to make light of an erupting situation and mistakenly said, “Oh you mean the bossy one – yep she is mine.”

The mom didn’t like my response (which is when I realized that this wasn’t just a casual conversation anymore).  She said, “Well, I hope you are going to go talk with her about that.  She did the same thing to my daughter last week.”  The other two moms were nodding at me in agreement with this mom.  One of the mom’s chimed in, “Yea she did do it last week.” I started to realize that I was being ganged up on.  I have to say, I didn’t really like the feel of it.  In fact, it brought the pit of my stomach up to my throat.  I could feel the sadness bubbling up inside of me.

Because I had been reading my bible study (remember “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God”), I knew that God was calling me to do something, but I still wasn’t sure what it was he needed me to do (#yestoGod).

I decided to put a halt to this conversation.  I explained, “Yes, I will talk with her about what happened after class.  You see, my daughter has a seizure disorder and her meds do cause behavioral issues.  We deal with these issues everyday and I have come to find that it works better to talk with her outside of public areas.”

I then walked away from the moms.  As I was walking away the other two moms could see the tears forming in my eyes.  Their words were hurtful.  I know people don’t understand Katie, and I could see the judgment that was unfolding in their minds.  They could see that they had surpassed my personal boundaries.  I prayed that they could see that I was a caring, loving mother that would never allow my child to push another child on purpose.

One of them caught my arm and said, “You have her in the right place.  Activity certainly can help kids that have behavioral issues.”  I nodded but quickly walked further away. The damage was done: their words had sent me into a tailspin.

I wish I could say it stopped there, but the mother who started the entire conversation came up to me again.  “If you don’t take care of your child,  I will contact the office and ask that she be removed.”

Are. You. Kidding. Me.  Deep breaths.  I did not make eye contact with the mother, but I said, “You should do whatever you feel you need to do.”

This is when the tears were streaming down my face.  I slid on my sunglasses and wished that I wasn’t stuck in this very uncomfortable place in front of many people.  How could anyone be so cruel?  After all of our struggles with Katie, I never would have pinned this situation as a behavioral dilemma.  I immediately went to Katie’s instructor and apologized if we were causing any chaos to her day.  I felt horrible that this mother would be approaching the instructor with this little issue and making it into something gigantic.  The instructor who has known Katie for six months told me not to worry.  She had seen nothing wrong with Katie’s behavior.  She also added that she has never had a problem with Katie in class.  Katie was standing right next to me with tears in her eyes, all the while apologizing to her instructor and to me.  We all agreed that from now on her instructor would handle the kids in the class, not Katie.

So when I returned home from this mess of a situation, I asked myself, “Why on earth did you do that to me God?  Why did you call me to humility like that?” (#yestoGod)

Leviticus 19:18  Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

So I prayed for the mother of that child. (#yestoGod)

Lord, take her up into your arms today.  She is hurting for her child.  She is in need of your healing spirit.  Please Lord, give her peace.  Let Your light shine into her heart.  Let her open her heart to you, today.  Send her all she needs to release her stress and allow her to be the mother that you made her to be. 

Then I prayed for me. (#yestoGod)

Lord, take away my angry and sad thoughts.  Take away the pain that was inflicted upon me.  Do not let those harsh words affect me as the mother that you made me to be.  Let me move on with my day.  Let me sleep in your loving arms.

Who ever said that bullies are young teenagers?  Bullies come in all sizes and shapes.  Bullies can come in the form of our friends.  Bullies can be strangers.  Bullies use their words to entangle us into their world; a world that they usually do not want to be in themselves.  I refuse to allow this bully to take me into that place.  I refuse to let evil infiltrate my soul.  I am choosing God today.  I am choosing to rise above what has been thrown at me.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves

We all encounter people every day that are selfish and could be considered bullies.  Bullying by definition is “an unwanted, aggressive behavior among people that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.” (This definition is from  The interesting part of all this is the mother used bullying tactics to stop what she considered to be bullying.

I broke that cycle.  I refused to give into acting like a bully.  Whether it is your boss, a co-worker or a stranger, don’t opt to respond by bullying.  Don’t opt to give up God’s message.  Treat everyone as more important than yourself.  It will be one of the most humble opportunities of your life.  It will model God more than anything else you could do.  It will be hard.  It will be uncomfortable.  It may even feel like you are giving in.  You aren’t though.  You are giving the person a gift; you are giving them God.

About aslamkowski

Blogger, Speaker and Author of "Revealing Faith: Learning to Place God First in Your Life" Most importantly, desperately wanting to hear and follow God's Will, wife of Peter and mother of three kids.
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14 Responses to Breaking the Bully

  1. themysticmom says:

    What a beautiful picture you’ve created for us of how to take an ugly, hurtful act and turn yourself to God in that moment. A perfect example of how strong we must be in God before we can exercise true humility. Hugs and prayers for all.

  2. Jenny says:

    I am so proud of you and Kate

  3. Wendy says:

    You are a wonderful Mom! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Oh, this is such a beautiful post. My son has a seizure disorder as well, and was ostracized at his school…he, as well as my other 3 are now homeschooled. I pray to have the same grace that you showed in this situation. Honestly? I don’t know that I could have. My first instinct is to protect my children, so your post convicted me that i need to say #yestoGod in the area of humility and handling critics. You have inspired me today, thank you.Bless you and your sweet daughter’s hearts.

    • aslamkowski says:

      Jennifer – your comment brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for those kind words. My daughter is at a Montessori School (which was a godsend to us) after struggling through a public school and a private school. I thank God everyday for showing us this school for her. I will pray for you and your family because I KNOW how hard it is to have a child with a seizure disorder. I FEEL your pain. And it takes a lot for me to say, “This is a blessing, not a curse” to myself.

  5. Mindy says:

    This reminds me of a sentence in this week’s Yes to God chapter that has resonated with me all week: “I am a woman on a journey of learning how to make sure my reactions don’t deny Christ’s presence in me.” This is exactly what you did, even though your heart and human nature wanted to do the opposite! You said YES! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  6. Oh I just don’t know if I could have handled this situation with so much grace and poise. God was with you!! And how you prayed for the other mom before even praying for yourself—thank you so much for setting that example for me! What a difficult situation but I love how you said #yestoGod!!!

  7. Tressa Torno says:

    This post left me in tears. I don’t know you, but I felt like I did just from reading this one post. God shines through you, you did a wonderful job walking away and dealing with just the instructor. You are a WONDERFUL mom! You did the right thing. (and a bigger person than me, it would have taken me longer to pray for the other mom! 😉 )

  8. Jamie says:

    Way to go.. You did a very noble thing.. It is hard to pray for someone when they have hurt you but once you do you know that God will take it into his hands. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Lynette Burnett says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I, too, have a friend who has a son with seizure disorder and behavioral issues and have never linked the two together. I will confess, I have judged my friend for not being a better disciplinarian, being too lenient, etc. Your post showed me that when I see this type of behavior, I should be less judgmental because you never know battles people are fighting. I never want to ostracize any mom, or make them feel “less than”; I know the issues I have had with my own sons and how others have judged me at times. I strive to be an encourager and uplifter, and this showed me an area that I need to work on. I now have a new perspective thanks to you!

    • aslamkowski says:

      Lynette – you made my day! I am so glad I could help someone have a different perspective! I cannot tell you how lonely it feels to be a mom of a kiddo with behavioral issues. I could so use an “uplifter” in my own life!

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